Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Sunday, September 25, 2016 - St. Luke 16:19-31

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Posted: Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

He was a rich man. God had given him plenty in clothing and food, house and home, land, cattle, and all he owned. He had the best clothing, the best house, the best family, the best respect, of anyone in the community. Everyone wanted to be like him. No one could be like him, but they all wanted some glimpse, some recognition, something from him.

This is not why he is condemned. He received in this life his good things, but that did not condemn him. How he received his good things did. He did not say: “I believe in God The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Instead he said, “Eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we die (but hopefully not).” He did not pray: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, . . . Give us this day our daily bread.” Instead he said, “Just look at all this stuff I’ve earned all on my own! How can I get more, more, more?” He did not say, “How can I love my neighbor as myself?” Instead he said, “Why won’t this annoying beggar just go away?”

He was a beggar. He didn’t have much. All he had were sores...and some friends who liked to plop him down at the rich man’s gate. They were hoping that guy would give him some new clothes or some medicine or at least some food. They were wrong. All he got was dogs licking his sores. You think that’s cute, but he didn’t like it one bit; after all, he always had to wonder when those wild dogs might decide to bite him.

This is not why he is saved. His name is Lazarus, but that’s the Greek and Latin. His real name, the name given him when he was circumcised, is Eliezer. That means “My God helps.” As he lay there every day, that was what was on his lips, “My God helps.” He knew the rich man wasn’t going to help him. That was quite obvious. But he did not forget that God had branded him with His Name when he was circumcised. He knew God had promised to help him, and he knew God wanted him to hold Him to His promise. So he did, and He helped; for He rescued him through death and the holy angels brought him to Abraham’s bosom to be eternally comforted.

Your God helps. That is the message of Moses and The Prophets, of The Apostles and Evangelists. The Sacred Scriptures are written to tell you that your God, and no other god, helps. He helped Noah by rescuing him and his family on The Ark from a wicked world destroyed in The Flood. He helped Abraham by staying his hand when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. He helped Israel by rescuing them from slavery in Egypt with the ten plagues and drowning Egypt’s armies in the Red Sea. He helped Israel go to the promised land by personally leading them day and night and giving them food and drink, by parting Jordan’s waters, and by giving them the land. He helped David by leading the stone into Goliath’s forehead and giving him the crown.

Your God helps. Look no further than the crucifix to see how He helps. He doesn’t help by giving you tips on how to better your life or get more dough. He doesn’t help by making everything go your way. He doesn’t help by giving you perfect health all the time or as much stuff as He gave the rich man. He doesn’t help by giving you a to-do list to get into heaven. He helps by forgiving sins. He has helped by sending His Son to die for you and rise again.

Do you need his help? You do. Were it not for Him, the crops wouldn’t grow, cows wouldn’t give milk, and the river would dry up. Were it not for Him, evil would capture you, danger would overtake you, and you would lose even what little you have. Were it not for Him, you would be in agony eternally with the rich man in Hades. No one would cross over to cool your tongue, nor could they, nor would they even want to, and even if they did, they wouldn’t cool your tongue, nor would you be able to kidnap that person and take his place in Abraham’s bosom, which is what I suspect the rich man really wanted.

So how can you escape the fate of the rich man? Your God helps! But do not take that to mean He takes you part way and you have to go the rest alone, or He does part of the work and you do the rest. You do nothing. He does everything. He gets you into heaven. If you did any of it, you would just fall off into hell.

How can that be? You are a sinner. Sin topples you off the way to heaven. If you try to get back up, it keeps you down, makes you fall further, and chains you tighter. Why is that? Because sin is rebellion against God, hatred of God, love of self and world. That’s what the rich man was like, him and his five brothers. They loved themselves and the things of this world, and couldn’t have been persuaded otherwise even if somebody did rise from the dead. Indeed Someone did rise from the dead–Lazarus did too–yet sin can never be persuaded to give up and let us go to Christ without a fight we can’t win on our own.

So how can you win the fight? Only with your God’s help. He alone can rescue you from sin. He alone can make you love Him and hate sin. He alone can persuade you to repent and believe Moses and The Prophets, The Apostles and Evangelists. For these are written that you may believe that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of God, and that by believing you may have life, eternal life, in His Name.

How can this be? They proclaim Christ and Him crucified! They tell you He died for you and rose again. They tell you that by His Death and Resurrection He has freed you from the chains of sin and death and hell and lifted you up out of that abyss into heaven. There’s nothing you need to do to get it. Only believe...and He even gives you that faith, for He has sent you His Spirit for that very reason. Believe, and eternal life is yours already!

Since He has done this, you have no reason to worry. He will help in time of need. If He would do something so great as send His Son to die for you, He will surely help you whenever you have need. So call on Him in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. Pray to Him when you are sick. Pray to Him when you aren’t. Pray to Him when you’re in danger. Pray to Him when you’re safe. Pray to Him to bless the harvest. Pray to Him to grant a harvest when it looks like there won’t be one. Pray to Him when a child’s on the way, and pray for the kids after that. Pray for every condition and need of man, and if you don’t know what to pray for, and even when you do, pray The Litany, since that covers all the bases. For it teaches you to pray “Help us, good Lord” by everything He has done for us in all time of tribulation and prosperity, in the hour of death and in the day of judgment. Surely He will, for He has taught you to pray, “Deliver us from evil.”

Your God helps. He may not always help the way you want Him to, and He may even make you wait longer than you like, but He always helps. His goal is to help you trust Him more. His goal is to help you focus on His Son’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection and away from your own passions, feelings, and sufferings. For it is through Jesus’ Death and Resurrection that you will be taken by the holy angels to Abraham’s bosom. There you shall be comforted until He raises you and all flesh, and you shall live with Him forever. Your God helps.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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